To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.
2013 Grants - Kim
Adult Neurogenesis and Alzheimer's Disease
Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
2013 New Investigator Research Grant
Traditionally, it was thought that the formation of new nerve cells in the brain ceases soon after birth. In recent years, however, scientists have discovered that new nerve cells continue to be formed even in adulthood in a few specific regions of the brain, including regions known to be vulnerable to cell death in Alzheimer's disease.
In people with Alzheimer's disease, the formation of new nerve cells in the brain is reduced. Furthermore, some of the molecules known to be important in Alzheimer's disease also affect the formation of new nerve cells. These observations suggest that a reduction in the formation of new nerve cells in the brain may be a part of the Alzheimer's disease process.
Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed a series of experiments studying the molecular pathways that control the formation of new nerve cells in the brain. They plan to focus on a protein known as glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), which is involved in other aspects of Alzheimer's disease, including the formation of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Kim and colleagues have preliminary evidence that activation of GSK-3 may inhibit formation of new nerve cells in the brain. They plan to perform more in-depth studies of the role of GSK-3 in this process, and study whether inhibiting GSK-3 can restore the ability of the brain to form new nerve cells. These studies will be performed in mice that have been genetically altered to have Alzheimer's-like disease. The studies may improve our understanding of nerve cell formation in the adult brain, and they may lead to new strategies to stimulate that process in people who have Alzheimer's disease.